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Daiches, Samuel 

Babylonian oil magic 
in the Talmud. . . 







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Bab jlonian Oil Magic in the 

Talmud and in the later 

Jewish Literature 








Babylonian Oil Magic in the 

Talmud and in the later 

Jewish Literature 








Oil a mystic element in antiquity : 

(a) in the Bible ; (b) in Assyria ; (c) in Egypt and Greece 3 
Oil in magic : 

(a) Babylonian 4 

(b) Jewish 5 

(c) Egyptian 5-6 

(d) European 6 

Babylonian origin 4~6 

A. Taxmudic Passaqes referrisg to Oil Maoic, and Notes. 
Babylonian parallels ; Notes on |Dtr ^"11?, D''2r3 nt?, magical 
power of oil ; Babylonian origin ....... 7~i2 

B. Later Jewish Texts, Translations, and Notes . • 13-4^ 
B I. Texts in which oil is used as a part of the divination 

ceremony i3-*5 

B 2. Texts in which the whole diyination is made only through 

the oil a6-7 

Notes ; Babylonian parallels ; Babylonian origin of the late Jewish 

oil magic shown 28-42 


1. On fna ne', Pja nB>, d)2 nc', ni^nn nK' (job' nB>) . 28-31 

2. On looking at the finger-nails at the prayer of Habdalah ; 

throwing away the parings of the nails ; cutting the nails 

on certain days and in a certain order .... 31-2 

3. On the magical circle (?13y) 3^-3 

4. On stones in magic . . • 33~4 

5. On cnsB'n nioy 34-5 

6. On ' the sea and the three lights that are in the universe ' . 36-7 

7. On divination through oil-formations; striking Old Baby- 

lonian parallels 39-4° 

8. On the use of oil mixed with water among the Jews in 

Babylonia about 1000 c.e. 4^ 

g. On D>!)nn KnD{J> and its Babylonian origin . . . .41-2 


Oil was regarded in antiquity as a mystic element. 
It was used for consecration and dedication. When Jacob 
wanted to hallow the stone at Bethel he poured oil on it 
(Gen. xxviii. i8}. "When Moses dedicated Aaron to the 
service of God he poured oil on his head and anointed 
him (Lev. viii. 12, cf. also Exod. xxix). The Tabernacle 
and all that was in it was consecrated by being anointed 
with oil (Lev. viii. 10, 11). Lev. x. 7, Moses says to Aaron 
and his sons: 'And ye shall not go out from the door 
of the tent of meeting, lest ye die : for the anointing 
oil of the Lord is upon you.' At the cleansing of the 
leper, too, oil was used. Four verses deal with the use of 
the oil for that purpose (Lev. xiv. 15-18 ; cf. also vv. 26-9). 
Every action mentioned in those verses no doubt had 
its significance. Samuel, when selecting Saul for the 
kingship, pours oil on his head (i Sam. x. i). "When 
David was chosen by Samuel to succeed Saul he was 
anointed with oil by Samuel (i Sam. xvi. 13). And so 
were the later kings anointed with oil, see especially 
I Kings i ; c£ also Ps. xlv. 8. 

In Assyria, too, memorial stones and tablets were 
anointed with oil. So Tiglath-Pileser I (end of twelfth 
century b.c.e.) says : naru p^- sd Samsi- «^ Rammdn a-hi- 
ia samne ap-su-us, ' the memorial stones of my ancestor 
SamSi-Ramman I have anointed with oil ' (col. viii, 47- 
48). See, for more references, Delitzsch, Assyrisches 
Handworterbuch, p. 550. In Egypt and Greece also oil 
was used for dedication ; see Hastings, Dictionary of the 
Bible, "Vol. I, p. loi. 

Oil also played a role in magic. "We know this from 
Assyro-Babylonian magical texts. In the Ritualtafeln 

A 2 


published by Zimmern^ oil is mentioned several times 
as an important element in magic. In old Babylonian 
texts, published by J. Hunger,'^ we find divination by 
means of oil. "What importance there was ascribed to 
oil in Babylonian magic can also be seen from the 
following passage occurring in one of the incantations 
of the MakJu texts published by Tallqvist ^ : — 

Hptu §amnu ellu samnu ib-bu §amnu nam-ru 

§amnu mtc-lil-li sa ildni 

§amnu mu-pa-as-si-i^ ^^bu-a-na §a a-me-lu-ti 

saman §ipti §a »^ E-a §aman Upti ka «i Marduk 

u-da-^i-id-Jca saman tap-su-u/i-ti 

M '^ E-a id-di-nu a-na pa-as-ha-a-ti 

ap-su-us-Tca §aman balafi 


' Incantation. Bright oil, pure oil, shining oil, 
the purifying oil of the gods, 
oil which softens the sinews of man. 

With the oil of the incantation of Ea, with the oil of the incan- 
tation of Marduk 
I have made thee drip; with the oil of softening 
which Ea has given for soothing 
I have anointed thee ; oil of life 
I have put on thee.' * 

Note especially line 34, in which the oil is called ' the 
oil of the incantation of Ea and Marduk ', the two great 
Babylonian gods of magic and divination. 

It is the object of the following pages to show that 
Babylonian oil magic in its various forms is also to be 

* In his Beitrdge sur Kenntnis der babylonischen Religion, Leipzig, 1901 
(to be quoted in these pages as RiL). 

* See J. Hunger, ' Becherwahrsagung bei den Babyloniern nach zwei 
Keilschrifttezten aus der Hammurabi-Zeit ' {Leipziger Semitistische Studien, 
I, i), Leipzig, 1903. 

' See K, L. Tallqvist, Die assyrische Beschtcorungsserie MaklH, Leipzig, 1895. 

* See Tallqvist, I.e., p. 92, lines 31-8; and cf. Weissbach, Zur Serie 
Maklft in Beitrdge zur Assyriologie, Vol. IV, p. 160. 




found among the Jews in the time of the Talmud and in 
later times. The parallels are striking, not only with 
regard to the use of the oil, but also with regard to the 
ceremonies and formulas connected with it. It will be 
seen that the Babylonian and Jewish documents supple- 
ment and throw light on each other. The passages re- 
ferring to oil in magic in the Talmud are very few and 
fragmentary. It will be seen how they become clear 
and intelligible with the help of the Babylonian texts 
as well as the later Jewish documents. 

I will deal first with the Talmudic passages (A) and 
then with the later Jewish texts (B). These later texts 
I divide into two groups: (i) one group (B i) consist- 
ing of those texts in which oil is used in course of the 
divination ceremony as a part of the ceremony so that 
the spirits may appear in the thumb-nail or in the hand 
or in the vessel and may be seen through the oil (i»b> ntr, 
1-7); (2) the second group (B2) consisting of texts in 
which the whole divination is made practically through 
the oil only, as through the formation of the oil (8) or 
through the reflection or non-reflection in the oil (9, 10). 
Text 1 1 does not strictly belong to this group. But in 
this text, too, the use of oil is important. 

We find that oil also played a role in Egyptian magic. 
The Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leyden, 
published by Griffith and Thompson, are full of oil divina- 
tion, and contain many striking parallels to Babylonian 
magical texts as well as to the Jewish texts published 
here.^ There can be no doubt that this form of magic 
came to the Egyptians from the land of the Euphrates. 
The following passage from the papyrus mentioned will 
help to show clearly the Babylonian origin of Egyptian 
oil magic : 

[The spell] which you say to the oil to put it on the sting 
daily : * Isis sat reciting to the oil Abartat and lamenting (?) to 

1 Cf. Griffith and Thompson, I.e., pp. 21-33, 35> 49. io3> "'. ^^3> 123, 
137, i39> 147, 155, 165, 169. 


the true oil, saying, ' Thou being praised, I will praise thee, oil, 
I will praise thee, thou being praised by the Agathodaemon ; thou 
being applauded (?) by me myself, I will praise thee for ever, 
herb-oil — otherwise true oil — sweat of the Agathodaemon, 
amulet (1) of Geb. It is Isis who makes invocation to the oil ' 
(see Griffith and Thompson, I.e., p. 131, lines 17-22). 

These lines read as if they were formed on the passage 
from Maklu, quoted above (p. 4), and show unmistakably 
the Babylonian origin of Egyptian oil magic. 

In Europe, too, oil has been known as a means 
of magical manipulations ; cf., e. g., lines 129-30 in 
Coleridge's The Ancient Mariner : 

' The water, like a toitch's oils, 
burnt green, and blue, and white.' 

The influence of the culture of the land of the two 
rivers upon the development of mankind has been very 
great, but not the least great has it been in the domain 
of magic and witchcraft. The more one examines the 
ancient literature the more one sees how the various 
forms of Sumero-Babylonian superstition spread to the 
whole of the ancient civilized world, and how many of 
these superstitions have survived up to the present day 
in East and West. 




In Talmud Babli, Sanhedrin loi*, tlie following Baraitha 
is quoted: — ^iso iSii |n3 biNty!? pnniD a^x^n ^im pi^ nB> 
pD "^ysb ^2^ |»{j> i'y pt^mi? pNi ^ij^nty job' ^y pc'nib .pannB' 
,"'^3^' J»{J^ p3D pNi n^lB' |OtJ'» ' One is allowed to ask of 
th.e princes of oil and the princes of eggs, only (one does 
not ask because ?) they lie.^ One whispers a charm over 
oil in the vessel and one does not whisper a charm over 
oil in the hand ; therefore one anoints (oneself) with 
the oil in the hand and one does not anoint (oneself) 
with the oil in the vessel.* 

It is clear that we have in this Baraitha the use of oil 
in magic. In the first case {p^ nK>, &c.) oil is used for 
divination purposes (jnn f^iXB*^). In the second case the 
oil is used for ' whispering a charm ', pB'nii', for magical 
healing. How the oil was used by the diviner the 
Baraitha does not state. Neither is it clear what "•IB' 
means. Rashi explains that it refers to magical work 
with oil and that p^ n^ mean fnu nB' (' the princes of 
the thumb '}. But this does not add much to our under- 
standing of the Baraitha. In fact, the phrase p^ ntJ' (as 
well as D"'V''n nB') appeared so obscure that some MSS. 
have ^y^ or n^B'.^ The Aruch (ed. Kohut, Vol. VIII, p. i6i) 
translates nB' by * princes '. But from the explanation of 
the Aruch (see I.e.), which differs somewhat from that of 

" 1 Some Commentators do not read N7N ; see the Responsa of B'3'"'"1 , 
No. 92, and cf. Rabbinowicz, D'^'IDID ''p'npT, ad loc, note 9. The meaning 
would then be that these inquiries are allowed because the ' princes ' lie. 
This is, however, unlikely. 

2 See Rabbinowicz, op. cit., Sanhedrin, p. 306. Cf. also the attempt 
at explanation made by L. Goldschmidt in his translation of Sanhedrin, 
p. 443, note 530. 


Rashi, it can be also seen that tlie real meaning of the 
Baraitha was by no means clear to those who attempted 
to explain it. We will see later how the late Jewish 
documents throw full light on this Baraitha. At present 
we will see what the Babylonian ' Ritual Tablets ' yield 
for the understanding of this passage. 

Eit.y pp. 196-7, § iii, opens with the following lines: 
(2) »' Samas hel di-nim »' Adad bel hi-ri ana§si-1c[u-nu-H 
a-kar-rab-Jcu-nu-W\ (3) kamna ella samna mdr i^A-nim 
Bamna mdr ^ Ba . . . ' (2) Sama§, lord of the judgement, 
Hadad, lord of the divination ! I bring to y[ou, I dedicate 
to you] (3) pure oil, oil, a child of Anu, oil, a child of 
Ea . . .' This prayer of the bdru is concluded in lines 
13-14 : (13) ina qihiti-jd n\s qdti-jd ina mim-ma ma-la 
eppti§u {-su) (14) ta-mit a-kar-ra-bu ina imni-su u ktme- 
li-ki Tcet-ta lib-si. ' (13) In my supplication, my lifting 
up of the hands, in everything I do, (14) the inquiry 
I dedicate, in his right and his left ^ be correctness.' 
Lines 15-25 then contain the following prescriptions: 

(15) burdsa upunta i-sdr-raq bamna ana sir-ki ittanandi 

(16) mi-ih-ha inakki{-ki) samna ana me ma-kaUti inaddi 
{-di) (17) t^ Samas u »^ Adad ildni rabuti i-sa-a-la 
(18) sum-ma tertu u §amnu i§-tal-mu (19) ildni rabuti 
izzazu-ma (20) di-nim ket-te u mlsari i-di-nu (21) ana 
sulum (-um) sarri ana zakap nakri ana sulum ummdni 
ana sa-bat ali (22) ana epes{-e§) arrati ana zandn same{-e) 
ana [ ] (23) ana libbi duhhudi (?) u mimma 7na-la 
[ ] (24) ana dine ta-nam-bi ina dini . . [ ] 
(25) m^r a"^ bdre ina me samna [i-na-tal]. ' (15) Cypress, 
fine flour he shall pour out, oil on the libation he shall 
put, (16) an offering he shall pour out, oil on the water 
of the vessel he shall put, (17) of oamaS and Hadad, the 
great gods, he shall inquire. (18) When the omen and 
the oil are faultless (19) the great gods come near and 

* It is rather difficult to see to what these words refer ; see Zimmern, 
I. c, p. 197, note b. Could they not refer to the person acting as medium 
(see below) ? 


(20) judge a judgement of justice and righteousness 

(21) concerning the welfare of the king, the overthrow of 
the enemy, the safety of the army, the taking of a city, 

(22) the making of a curse, the raining from heaven, . . . 

(23) the making abundant of the inwards ^ and anything 
whichever . . . (24) for judgement thou announcest, in 
judgement . . . (25) the diviner shall look upon oil in 
water .. . .' 

Here we clearly have a case of divination by oil. 
Although it seems, according to 1. 16'' and 1. 18, that it 
speaks here of lecanomancy, it must be inferred from 
1. 2^ 1. 3, 1. 17, and 1. 19 that the object was not only to 
get to know the future happenings from the formations 
of the oil (see below), but also — and perhaps mainly — 
from the gods themselves by means of the oil. Therefore, 
whether p^ in ]K)^ nB> refers to lecanomancy or whether 
it refers — which is more probable — to a different use of 
the oil (see below), to ask of the |»K' nti' means to inquire 
of the princes (the gods, the demons) through using oil 
what the future will bring or to ask them to fulfil a certain 
wish. Cf. also the expression *^ /§amas u «' Adad Hani 
rabuti i-sa-a-lu with \m b^imb. That the p^ nB> often 
' lied ' (panOB' "'JB»), even those who believed in those super- 
stitious acts will have known, as the ceremonies connected 
with those acts were so numerous and had to be most 
scrupulously and faithfully performed, and the least 
error brought about failure. For this reason the diviner 
prayed that he might be saved from mistakes, cf. 11. 13-14 
of the quoted 'ritual tablet', also Hunger, I.e., p. 15. 


^ See Zimmern, 1. c, note d. It means, perhaps, ' the making abiindant 
of the heart '. 

^ In the case of D"'Jf''3 Ht^ eggs were used for the purpose of divination. 
We see from this that a magical influence similar to that of oil was 
ascribed to the egg, and that the egg was used for various magical 
purposes. Thus we also read in Hilprecht's Excavations in Assyria and 
Babylonia, of eggs which were concealed under incantation-bowls. Ibid. , 
p. 418, Hilprecht mentions ' fragments of an egg-shell inscribed with 
Hebrew letters in black ink '. P. 448, Hilprecht says that the ' inscribed 


The second case of the Baraitha (pcmb) speaks of the 
use of oil for magical healing. The Baraitha says that 
the whispering of the charms is done over oil in a vessel. 
The same thing we find in the Babylonian ' Ritual 
Tablets'. Cf. Rit, pp. 104-5, ^- ^^7' "tnolcalta «»»^^ haru 
u-Jcan, 'the makaltu-vessel the diviner shall put (in its 
proper place)'. This makaltu was used for oil (and 
water) ; cf. Zimmem, I.e., p. 85 and p. 89. Cf. also Rit., 
pp. 114-15, 1. 20, where the makaltu is mentioned, and 
pp. 118-19, 1. 24, where the hdru is called mukin makalti 
elli-te, 'he who puts down the sacred (divining) vessel'. 
Cf. also pp. 174-5, ^- 9'- ['^""'5'a]< ]cal-l[u sani]ne me tumalli- 
ma,' 'a kallu-vessel thou shalt fill with oil and water', 
and pp. 176-7, 11. 41-2 : (41) [fc]ar-n-«[w §]d samne me §d 
ina karpat Jcal-U (42) ""^^ zammaru a-na m[ahar (?) m]ajali 
tl-qar-rab.' ' The mixture of oil and water, which is in 
the kallu-vessel, the singer shall bring before (?) the bed.' 

Through these Babylonian parallels it seems, by the 
way, to become clear that the Baraitha does not refer to 

hen's egg, which was concealed under the bowl ', * is probably to be 
regarded as a sacrifice to those demons to appease their wrath and check 
their evil influence'. P. 368, we read of 'a well-preserved goose-egg' 
that was found in the mortar of the Parthian palace. References to eggs 
in connexion with magic are also made in the Sioord of Moses, ed. Gaster, 
p. xiii, 1. 33, p. XV, 1. 16, p. xvii, 1. 6 and 1. 24, p. xix, 1. 14, and p. xxvi, 
1. 9, and in Thompson's 'Folklore of Mossoul', PSBA., 1906, p. 100, 
Nos. 25, 31, 35, and 1907, p. 167, Nos. 17 and 29. The passage in Talmud 
Babli, Aboda Zara 46* (cf. also Jerush. A. Z., ch. 3, 43*, ed. Krotoschin, 
see also 53'), rh niinriBTI^ nSfl ^p), could, perhaps, be explained 
better now. Having had a magical power, and having been regarded 
as effective against evil spirits, the egg may have also been made an 
object of worship. 

By the way, that the belief in the * princes of the eggs ' is still alive, 
and that eggs are still used for superstitious purposes, the following 
quotation shows. In the Daily News and Leader of May i, 1913, the 
reviewer of My Past by Countess Marie Larisch quotes the following 
passage from that book : ' The Empress (Elisabeth of Austria) was very 
superstitious, and occasionally, when I had exhausted the gossip of 
Vienna, she would make me put the white of an egg into a glass 
of water, and together we would try to read omens in the shapes which 
it took.' A remarkable reminiscence of Sumero-Babylonian superstition ! 


work allowed or forbidden on Sabbath (of. Aruch, I.e., 
also Blau,Z)as altjudiscJie Zauberwesen, p. 71), but simply 
speaks about the magical acts and the usual magical per- 
formances (cf. also Eashi ad loc). The last sentence of 
the Baraitha is probably to be understood in this way : 
because one whispers the charm over oil in the vessel and 
not over oil in the hand, one does anoint oneself with 
the oil -from the hand, but one does not anoint oneself 
with the oil from the vessel, as oil used for magical pur- 
poses must not be used for any other purpose. It may 
also be that magical oil was supposed to be injurious. 

Of interest is also the following passage in Talmud 
Jerushalmi, Shabbath, ch. xiv, § 3 (ed. Shitomir, p. 43^) : 

."•bn p2 n^3 p3 iniJ "-W '•m Ot^a 'Simeon the son of Ba 
(says) in the name of Rabbi Hanina : He who whispers 
the charm puts oil on his head and whispers ; only he 
should not put (oil) into his hand or into a vessel. 
R. Jacob the son of Idi (says that) Rabbi Johanan (said) 
in the name of Rabbi Janai : he (the whisperer) puts 
(oil) into the hand or into the vessel.' ^ 

Here we have again oil magic. And we also learn 
here that 'the whisperer' had to anoint his head with 
oil before he performed the act of ' whispering '. Exactly 
as among the Babylonians. In Rit, pp. 1 12-13, 1. 4, we 
read : ana Ubbi samni hasami (?) ^"''^ SI.SI inaddi {-di)-ma 
ippasas{-ds). ' (The diviner) shall put Sl.Sl-herbs into 
sweet-smelling oil and anoint himself Cf also pp. 114- 
15, 1. 20 : samna mahar maJcalti «»««' baru ena-su ipassas. 

1 About the differences of opinion see ibid., p. 43", and commentaries. 
For a parallel passage cf. Jerush. Ma'aser Sheni, ch. a, § 3, fol. 7*. 
A similar passage is to be found in Jerush. Shabbath, ch. 6, § 5, fol. 22* : 

B'nii'i iB's-i yy p^ |ni3 wtn cannn xn^yt m OB'n min^ m nos 

,'•^'33 xh Tta si? in'' vh^ nabll ' He who feels pain in his ear puts 
oil on his head and whispers a charm ; only he should not put (oil) into 
the hand or into the Tessel.' pB> |niJ, &c., no doubt refers to the 


' With oil shall, before the (divining) vessel, the diviner 
anoint his eyes.' 

That magical power was ascribed to oil can also be 
seen from the following passage in Talmud Babli, San- 
hedrin loi*: NrecnN Ninn^ ybp^N Nmo na ^jnidb* 13 pnT m 

/Dn^Ni Nn^''D rpi5 may nnt n^th np nom Npn moN Nnn^x nmh 
' Rab Izhaq the son of Semuel the son of Marta came to 
an inn. They brought unto him oil in a vessel. He 
rubbed himself (with the oil), (and) blisters appeared on 
his face. He went into the street (and) a woman saw 
him (and) she said : The spirit of heat do I see. She did 
something to him and he was healed.' References to the 
magical power of oil are also to be found in Talmud 
Babli, Shabbath lo^ and 66^. 

From the Talmudic passages adduced here it is clear 
that the use of oil in divination, as well as in other kinds 
of magic, was known to the Jews in the time of the 
Talmud, The Babylonian parallels make it -equally clear 
that the use of oil in magic was of Babylonian origin 
and that the Jews took it over from the Babylonians. 
"We will see later that the Babylonians practised oil 
magic as long back as 2000 B.C. e. The Ritual Tablets, 
although coming from the library of ASSurbanipal, no 
doubt also go back to that time. There can be no doubt 
therefore as to the Babylonian origin of these magical 
practices. To the Babylonians again these practices 
came from the Sumerians. What concerns us now, how- 
ever, is that the Jews in the time of the Talmud made 
the same use of oil for magical purposes and performed 
the same ceremonies as the Babylonians. The examina- 
tion of the later Jewish documents and the adducing of 
their Babylonian parallels will make the Baraitha in 
Sanhedrin still clearer and will show how much in- 
formation there has been preserved in that short Talmudic 





The later Jewish documents to be dealt with now come 
from the library of the Haham, Dr. Moses Gaster. In 
his magnificent collection of Hebrew manuscripts there 
are many with magical contents, and I am indebted to 
Dr. Gaster for having drawn my attention to the same. 
My thanks are also due to the Haham for having kindly 
allowed me to copy the texts reproduced here.^ 

The first two texts are contained in Cod. Gaster 315, 
large 4° (a collection of prayers and magical prescrip- 
tions ; Spanish ; sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), 
ff. 53^-53^. Texts 3, 4, 5 are from Cod. Gaster 443, 4° 
(niNls-11 rwbMO ; nntJ'a "n -isd ' Book of the life of the flesh ' ; 
'Remedies and Cures'. Written at Tunis in 1775. 
Copied from old Eastern and Western MSS. ; Oriental 
writing), fol. ii**. No. 4, and ff. 13* and 13^. Text 6 is 
from Cod. Gaster 1000 (niNlQm nii?iJD ; Oriental MS., six- 
teenth-seventeenth centuries), ff. 53^-54^ Text 7 is from 
Cod. Gaster 214 (niiJlJO, Yemen MS., eighteenth century), 
ff. 2''-3*. Text 8 is from Cod. Gaster 128, 8° (niNiani ni^UD, 
a collection of prayers, magical texts, and recipes; different 
handwritings ; Hebrew and Arabic. Written at Yemen, 
seventeenth-nineteenth centuries), fol. 45* (oldest hand- 
writing in the collection). Text 9 is from Cod. Gaster 
464 (D''D1301 D''a^ ni^UD ; Italian ; seventeenth-eighteenth 
centuries), No. 98 (fol. 18''). Among the authorities quoted 
in this collection of ni!?i3D Ibn-Ezra (twelfth century) is 

^ It may not be out of place to note here that, if Dr. Gaster's wonderful 
collection of manuscripts could be made accessible to scholars, it would be 
foimd to be a veritable mine for Jewish science. 


mentioned. On the last page there is the following note : 

' and most of them (of the ni^JD) have been copied from 
the manuscript of a book of our honoured teacher and 
master Rabbi Ibn-Ezra (the memory of the righteous 
and holy one be for a blessing) '. This note clearly shows 
that all the ' healing cures ' and magical prescriptions in 
these manuscripts are copies from much older originals. 
Text TO is copied from Cod. Gaster 462, 4° (Italian; 
fifteenth-sixteenth centuries), fol. 20^ Text 11 is from 
Cod. Gaster 443, No. 83 (fol. 25*). 

I have numbered the texts for reference purposes. The 
order in which I have put the texts commended itself 
to me, as will easily be seen, from the nature of their 


Text i. 

inptj' pao nv vp"^?^ b'ov nevi "lyj np .mns .inn nt:' 
DV^n '1 npni T]pi mmriB' ny ^roM jna b^ uibx jpm nine' 
2'Bnni b'iivn ]r^H2 'm paon ypni hjyn nieB> '12 n^cn o^jax 
HT nn lOB'a in^Di wiisv ntroi Enscn moy ^jsi? i3ini) iy:n 

5 ncN bs ny2B>nn hkt wrxn B'ni'n nnsi ijniavn non -iv^^n b^no'^i 
'n po* i)*n ncny 'n po* loyr Q^J 1^*2* vh'i p-isn tyyin «vpD 
nna ntj>ijB' ij^ac'm D^^ i'^SE'i pisv ne* D3''^y *jn rac^ noon 
icy na^on p oa Nam nr pisva po^D n^jon w^3nB> D^ya B^t? 
Dioncn p^ nnxi nina' nn« n^craa ^je' db' ix^a^an may 'jcy wa^Bn 

lona^DH Nuncn ^n^auj nioa nc'^tj' db> iN^a^en m^B'i'i DioE'an 
: nyindn nsD Dty iN^3"'en D^^naoon n^ii jni'iB'n ictr-'i n:n^ misa 
n^D^ la^^B' nvnnB'31 :nx"inB> no ^a lij n^j* inc^^i li'aN^B' noNi 
nc'^c N^nnc' nyiac'n isoa Dy>aB>^ m^JNc^ai invooi misvo ptrn 
^KB^B> riD bac nt2N i-ion-b' p na }oyB> bai nai^Dni n^»n D^oya 

15 .iDsn DiB> "h iBT?^ N^Bn "lyan in3'»n''B' isisa Dni> 

^ 0*3133 no doubt scribe's error for D*313T. 


the hand of the mentioned lad with olive oil and place 
him on a stool, and the face of the lad (shall be turned) 
towards the east and towards the window, and he shall 
caU 1 in his right ear three times TONDEIT, KEIT, HEIT 
and three times in the air above his ^ head and three 
times in the left ear. And then shall the lad look con- 
stantly into the hand, and he will tell him the name of 
his master if he sees anything. And if he will tell him 
that he ■ does not see anything he shall mention the 
same names a second time just as the first time ; and if 
he does not see anything he shall mention them a third 
time as the second time ; and if he does not see anything 
(yet) he shall say in the right ear of the lad three times : 
I adjure you, ATOR, SATOR, SOMANI, ATOR ; three 
times shall he adjure (them) above the head of the lad 
in the left ear of the lad, and then shall he ask the lad 
whether he sees anything in his hand on the oil. And 
if he will see the figure of a man dressed in black the 
lad shall tell him : ' go and put on white garments and 
return at once ', and when he will return he shall tell 
him : ' go to thy kingdom and bring hither the king and 
all the sons (people) of his kingdom', and they will 
slaughter a lamb and they will eat and drink in the 
presence of the lad. And then shall the lad say to the 
king : ' I adjure thee in the name of thy supreme lord 
that you shall all go (away) in peace and thou shalt send 
me one of you that he may tell me all that I will ask 
of him.' And he will do so. And the lad shall ask of 
him all that he desires, and he will tell him with his 
mouth. And if he desires that he shall write for him 
anything in the writing of his hand he shall give him 
the parchment and the ink and the pen, and he will 
fulfil him his demand. And then he shall tell him : ' go 
in peace, and grace, grace unto thee, return to the sons of 
thy kingdom.* 

^ Change from second to third person. 
» Read WiOD. 

1 8 babylonian oil magic 

Text 3. 

na ^"iN3 nSay loy r]\m nning' xnpn oy cnn po np '.mn« 
f'Nix' n* nc'oi D'jc 'uD nina my: in nyj oy naina 3c«^ ^ainc' 
pn iD^a* N^B' Dn^ inTm nano i'E' ninBn nn loc oy jno nnx !jb> 
*2D ''^xnn^p nptri 'rXD n*3»M wmn anni? 3"nNi niBisn nipeo 

5 Nine' nt3 {53 ijy n^iaa nnicn ii> u^eti^ nyan r\6 iNnnnir 7^^^iyxD 
mna ^y aan nnx ens nsn* -lyjm B"a nDN> nr ^531 nyn f^Nic? 
^3*y3 nK>'> 1^ nox^i 'n oB'a wn inn a": 1^ idn^i pi? didi nni* 
iDMi tiinc'^i E^33 N^ani? i^mB^i> nivni didhd ^x mnsno nnnc' 
i'NB' ibsB' inw B''3 i)3 'h noN^ ^i»3Ni> in^iB' nny^i imK nivi 

10 7J<*nnS 7K*iDiD DB'n y^ND b'j -lONfi Dnptt^ on DN1 nnW 


Another (prescription). Take a new knife with a black 
handle and make with it a circle in the earth so that you 
can sit in it with a boy or a girl less than nine years 
(old), and anoint the left hand of one (either) of them 
with olive oil and the black (soot) of a pan, and warn 
them that they should not look outside the anointed 
place, and then whisper into his right ear : I adjure you 
(in the name of) B^KT, K Katriel, MI, Maeniel that you 
shall appear unto this lad, and you shall give him a proper 
answer to all that he asks for me, and all this he shall say 

1 The preceding prescription (on fol. ii' of MS.) is headed by the words 
n*ni?X nE^yO 'Performance with a flask' and deals with a similar 
ceremony, in which, however, oil is not used. The spirit invoked in 
that prescription is called TT'mbx "It? ' The prince of the flask '. 

2 Q^2 left out here by mistake. In a prescription similar to this (on 
fol. 12'* of MS.) the same spirits are invoked, and there OB'S is written 
before npE'S. DpB'l is evidently one of the mystical names. 

^ In the prescription referred to in the preceding note the name is 

written ijNnnnp. 



three times. And the lad will see a man riding on a white 
mule or on a white horse, and he shall say unto him three 
times : Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord,^ 
and he shall say unto him : it pleases me that thou shalt 
go down from the mule or the horse, and thou shalt com- 
mand thy servants to bring a lamb, and he shall slaughter 
it and roast it and prepare the table for him to eat it, 
and he shall tell him everything three times. And after 
they have eaten ask your question. And if they lie thou 
shalt say three times: I adjure you in the name of 
Sansniel, Patchiel, Sakiel that you tell me the truth, 
and whisper also three times into the ears of the boy and 
also in his head §DI, §ID, MSH, TEIT, RIT, and you 
will know what you desire. 

Text 4. 

nina'i nn losrn nrh^ p»^ i^ nt^Di '''\p nxi t6^ myj in nyj np 
'j»^ i3rN3 mrh) n^TD nvb nninan p^n ijj nwn n»yni nnnc ^k> 
*nv ^bp2 y:sh onina vn^ ni»B'n iIjni IJi TO )W niDKTi ibs b"j 
nins s"a 3"a di»xn a'^nxi 'k n»»5J'n nnan nin» oniK Kipi 5 
DNi ninjr mx nxn dn iy:i' ^nb'i ^i'NDK' urNn a^a 3"ai ^'\)vn 
mib DIN nxn DN1 B^pl p'll pi IB^n!? a'^a c'ln^^ nxn u^nb' n»iK 

mix i'axi inix ni'vi mix taina^i b>33 x^nni ini'B'Do bii s|3n iW 
ne'ni ^m >i"iV2i nxcnm nan n^iiy mxD ^ax )b idx^ i'axtJ' nnxbi 10 
na nnu3 ijxiB' ^axE' n» b ^i* nxnntj' la^D ^iivai ivi^yn nan 
jDt3 HB'x Dip»i aaan 1^5 nxn^c' ni»x na^aa pay by xin oxi 'pane' 

1 Cf. Ps. cxviii. 26». 

2 The preceding prescription (on fol. 12'' of MS., see above, p. 18, note a) 
deals with Dia HE'. But oil is not mentioned _in it. 

' So in MS. n no doubt a mistake for N. 

B 2 


i^w )0« Dcn 333n DB' n»i>y ninai naa^ np ma 33jn dm raan 
DEO niDN pijnnc'a^ c'sn nin njnSi n^en IpH IHV ^P5 '^'•'^'^'■^ 

i3-ipn niri D3B'K nanen nmao ii> iJnn ijNi sinn 2:in 2b isiKn 

Dva ni^wan ncyni mnoi n^jyn nn^'i a'aai? niiin inn^B' ny 

.nntsion n^'n n\nn 'ran Dcn ^k' n»nni >m 


Another {prescription). In order that they should come 
into the hand, and they are called ' the princes of the 
hand '. And this you shall do : Take a boy or a girl that 
has not seen a pollution and anoint their right hand with 
olive oil and the black soot of the pan, and put the boy 
opposite the open window towards the east, and whisper 
into his right ear three times these names: §ATU, 
KAE.U, NANU ; and these names shall be written 
before you on the parchment of a deer, and read them 
from the writing in one breath, and afterwards you shall 
also say them three times behind the neck and also three 
times into his left ear, and ask the boy whether he sees 
a black man, and if he says that he does not see he shall 
also ^ whisper in the reversed order WANUN, WARUK, 
WATUS. And if he sees a man dressed in black tell 
him that he should put on white garments and return at 
once, and when he returns he shall say unto him : I 
command that thou shalt go at once to thy kingdom, and 
thou shalt bring a lamb and slaughter it and roast it and 
eat it, and after he has eaten he shall tell him : I cominand 
thee with the power and permission and command of my 
master and in the name of thy supreme master and by 
the command of thy king that thou shalt show me all 
that I ask clearly so that I should understand. And if it 
is concerning a theft tell (him) that he shall show you 

' It means, ' thou shalt also ' ; cf. above, p. 15, note 6. 


the thief and the place where he has hidden the theft. 
And if the thief has fled take a brick and write on it the 
name of the thief and the name of his mother, and these 
names BATU, ZATU, HAKU, and put the brick into 
the fire, and when it will become white hot say : As the 
name of the thief has been burnt, so shall you, who are 
appointed to make hot the heart of every robber and 
thief, make hot and bum the heart of that thief, and you 
shall not give any rest unto him, and the burning of 
your fire shall go in him until he will return the theft 
to N., the son of N. And this requires fasting and purifi- 
cation, and you shall do the work ^ on the fourth day (of 
the week) and the rrin of this name ^ shall be a humped 

Text 5. 

niD ny ha 5^N-i» n^ hb'di n^JE^'T p nya npi x>S33iN (»k"3) ^*;iiN 
h^ ijDDD bv atJ'm iT-a oiam nn^B'on mp»i iTin nhnan d^k'i ynvN 
nianm n^s i:: ijtn nsB'^tJ' ibin3 ^^n1^T pi nyjn n^^n n'hr\ 'y 
n»N D^piJN i»N 'n DE'i y^ND i'-'wiK iJTNn -ii»Ki B'DB'n nj3 t^ss 
nyjn nsn"' m D^aKijD 'a idd n^K'nc' IT'S ns^n ni^nvn ncitj' * '•^si 
lyan Dn^ noN^i d^jb> hnti D^cya ^jb> my "ii»ni 'n mx i»3 
utj'^ N^ DNi nviriB' n» oni? ^Ne'^B> -lyji? niox a^'nNi di^b'!? oaxn 
3in y^K^D irtD^Sl (N"3) ^J^y 'h'2 ^SK'p noN^"i "lyjn oy^ac^ 'h 
^3 yi^ n^Ji^D n3J3 33j ^» in ^aii^a in 'h n^anc' ^Jti' |rp^J3 ^jni io 
!]-iinn ^»^3^ piy» ^0^53 m nv3 n\n^E' in>f nr 131 niB'y^ nxnn 

Another (prescription). And they are called ' the princes 
of bdellium '. Take bdellium and write upon it with olive 
oil AUVGIL (or^) AUNGILEIA, and take a boy seven 

^ i.e. the whole performance. 

* It probably refers to the name "Ipn. 

3 Literally, ' another version '. * So in the MS. 


years old and anoint his hand from the top of the thumb 
to the end of the finger, and put the bdellium into his hand 
in the anointed place and seize his hand, and you shall sit 
upon a stool of three legs and put the boy between your 
loins so that his ear shall be against your mouth, and you 
shall turn your face towards the sun and say in his ear : 
AUNGIL, I adjure thee in the name of the Lord, God, 
God of truth, God, Keeper of the Hosts, ALPHA, AIDU, 
that thou shalt send from thee three angels. Then 
the boy will see (a figure) like (that of) a man ; and say 
twice more and he will see two (figures), and the boy shall 
say unto them : Your coming be in peace. And then 
tell the boy that he shall ask of them what you wish. 
And if they will not answer him shall the boy adjure 
them and say : KASPAR, KELEI 'EMAR (or) BLEI- 
TEISAE., the master and I adjure (you) with a second 
adjuration that you shall tell me that thing or who has 
committed that theft. And know that he who wants to 
do this thing must do it on a clear, cloudless day, and 
in winter time at midday.^ 

Text 6. 

pK3 b):v nET;i "iinK> ipm3i "hi:^ t n^nc pao np .eian ne' 
nn>ni ^i2'\:^n i:: 2^) mn ne^s in nyjni nns u 2^^b binB* na 
^y lyjn po"- -]'> nmi^ vn i»3 pira myi DBrnon bv^ iintrn n'^n'^ 
"101NI n5w:n Dipon p pn t3'3^ i6^ iji\nrni nf^^n i:: nioyi 133 

5 in03K N131 -103 N1Q-)S »C)3ip ^;?0 NOJ] DJT D3t y^ND 13»)0* JtNl 

i}2 n33 jKn33 iNn3D Bit3"'oiB mon n\ff2 np3t "'d^3)di *nina3S inv 
n'3M inan w nNnon in nma ij;3n nr^ n^3ni n»Nni inihk' ^mh 

* Fol. 14' contains the beginning of another prescription : ^ItJ' ,mnN 

m iDB'n ^^' nnc^B' inx i)3''3 jpaiyn!? ^nv lovyn nirf? ,v\2n 

, , . IDND niyi '-4no</ter (prescnp^ton). Princes of the hand. In order that 
you may see yourself it is necessary to adjure as said above after you 
hare anointed your hand with olive oil, and you shall say . . . ' The 
rest is missing. This fragment shows that the adjurer himself could also 



nxn nns n» lyji? ^NtJ» inxi bxiK' ^JNty no ^31: nnx lan nna ^b 

nioNntJ* pnx p:; by pipn n'^nB' Dtj'ni pnn pt3t3''D3 Dcn y^N yaa^ 10 
12DD1 n^Da nt^'^i sn^i minni nynn ib' nja^a^ i3''n ns is^nni 
ijNiB' ^:ni5' n» i?3i in^^pni ^rhi^'^ nitj'yb vntj*!' n^o pina D:h> myi 
nw DIN niona ns-iM n^a^Q* i3^m oy ixa^i lai?^ n^»i ijd» B^paci 
'li'B' )^ ->iDK iNuni D^DHN DHm nnb nma i^y nan iNn na^i 
nioN a'^HNi m^i mnan» ni'b n^J^yi aja^"" li? mcs a'^nsi a'': nsn 15 
moNi niN^a^ 1^01 vby asmii' na nd3 N^nnb i^n n^nn:i'»b niv ib 
nao Nunb i^rya aD^^ti' li? 'oinb' 'Jj '»ik '•Jinx ^b niDX nyji' 
rijy ynu'''"! inN'-n"' t-di *i»io I'kib' '•^Nty hdd n»Nn -ion!? vby yatJTi"! 
lipriM K^i inibx'""! inin"'K'a''i inionB'^i d3 iN"'n''tj> i!? -ii»n a^nxi 

Dv N^i Vja^B^ Dv N^ nijion nra inti'yn i6) oamb lib^i 'i^K'i' 
Dn:ni rh'2i22\ n^aynni Tnn dv3 si'N piyon dv nIji v-inx^E' 


Princes of the hand. Take a knife the handle of which 
is black and make a circle in the earth so that you can 
sit in it, you and the boy or a pregnant woman, and he 
shall sit towards the sun, and in your hand shall be the 
black soot of the pan, and mix (it) with oil (so that it 
becomes) like ink and anoint the right hand of the boy 
on his palm, and he shall stand towards the sun, and you 
shall warn him that he shall not look outside the anointed 
place, and say in his right ear: I adjure you, ZGAM, 
UMNUSI, ZAGMA in the name of HATOS, PARMI- 
that you shall show and say and tell this lad by speech 

1 Read'lN( = DmN). 


or sight or writing, and he shall tell me clearly the truth 
about all that I will ask. And then ask the lad ; what 
dost thou see? And you shall adjure so often until he 
will see the thirteen (princes). And after these thirteen 
will have appeared you shall adjure (them) again and 
say : I adjure you in the name of GAMITTON outside 
and in the name that was engraved on the plate of Aaron 
that you shall say and bring our master IPHEIPHIJAH, 
the prince of the knowledge and the learning, and that 
he shall come and sit like a king at his table, and he 
shall command you as a king commands his princes ^ to 
do my wish and my desire and all that I ask and desire 
of him. And they will immediately go and come with 
our master IPHEIPHIJAH, and he will appear as a 
man, beautiful and good looking, riding on a white mule 
and (attired in) red garments. And when he comes say 
unto him three times : thy coming be in peace, and then 
tell him : May it be good in thy eyes to descend from the 
mule, and he will descend, and then tell him : command 
these thy servants to bring a chair so that thou canst sit 
on it, and they will bring it immediately. And tell the 
lad : say unto him : My master tells me that I shall say 
unto thee that it may be good in thy eyes to bring 
a book, and thou shalt swear on it to tell the truth about 
that which I will ask of thee, and he will bring it imme- 
diately and swear on it. And then tell him that they 
shall bring a lamb and slaughter it and take off its skin 
and roast it in fire, and they shall prepare the table. 
Then ask your question. And after you have asked your 
question tell the lad that he shall say unto them : go in 
peace, and they will go their way. And thou shalt not 
do it on the day of conjunction (new moon), and neither 
on the day before it nor on the day after it nor on a 
cloudy day, but only on a bright day, and with fasting 
and ritual bathing and white and clean garments. 

^ Literally, ' as the custom of the king to his princes '. 


Text 7. 

i>jn pnoi n^3D o^an niDi (iN^iya i3^ijQ ^p:n) )»i5> np .on nB' 
^ja nai Di3n nDB>3 njp^mm p^ijim niyty na npi n^t3\n inatr 
i?y D^jioon did ntj' p^i»y Naync's y^3tj>ni np ini N^tr cinw '2 

naa ""d "•aiNiriB' '!\m ^la: ^lax finB* ^:o ^m f\i^ bw djk db>3 
.n^noN -n>'»Nn laixnm lan^t^n p n^^noN nnst:' DB^a an'^a^K' nn^aan 
n^a bv nniN iian^i nnyp bv Dian in^B' nnxi nn^ in a"ta noN^ 
a^HNi Dnyan ibDM '^^i? inn nnb -110T0 ncib invi K^otfn naa 


Princes of the cup. Take oil (which is called oil ot 
sesame^) and anoint well the cup from inside and from out- 
side and on its edge, and take a candle of wax and kindle 
it and stick it to the edge of the cup in front of two 
boys who have not seen a pollution, and adjure : I adjure 
you princes of the cup who are appointed on the cup 
above and below and in all kinds of drinks in the name 
of HVIH blessed be He and in the name of the ten 
Sefiroth,2 in the name of AGP, NGP, §GP, AGP, MGP, 
§HP, AGP, NGP, §HP that you shall show me who has 
stolen the stealing (the object)from N.,the son of N. As you 
are true so you shall answer us and show us a true showing. 
He shall say (it) nine times or more, and it is necessary 
that he shall place the cup on a dish and turn it on its 
mouth towards the sun, and it is necessary to say ' A Psalm 
of David. Give unto the Lord', &c.,^ and the lads shall 
dip themselves in water and then he shall adjure. 

^ For ^j^sia. ' sesame ' see I. LOw, Aramdische Pflanzmnamen, p. 377 ; 
see also ibid., p. 426, 13 va no doubt means oil. Sesame-oil in con- 
nexion with magic is also mentioned several times in the Sword of 
Moses, ed. Gaster, p. xiii and p. xv (pDtJ'IB' TVi?12). 

'^ On the Sefiroth see Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. Ill, p. 474 f., and Vol. XI, 
p. 154. 

2 Ps. xxix. 



Text a 

by njop y3VN3 nn fDB> peta 'a n sj^am d"o on np .pnn^ 


For pregnancy? Take a cup of water and drop into it 
three drops of olive oil with the small finger, (and) at 
every drop (he shall say) three times: Kutiel, Harbiel, 
and drop one (drop), and thus he shall do three times. 
If the drops cleave to each other and it (the oil) goes up — 
he (the child) will live, and if they sink down and it (the 
oil) does not go up — ^he will not live. 

Text 9. 

np D^Dixy n'bini nnvnn n^an ^yoi >n w no ib^n dn nyni? 
n^as nK nxn nnt dn naina rr^Q nNnni na* pB> nxi'D myp 
B'aT HK^D n-^v? np no Nin dni .no sin m6 dsi ^n Kin -lyan 
a^nxi losyb nns ba nniN nin^^i ^a"n c'ain n^b 'n niyn:fN pya^ 
.n*o nbni B'm ny pnena d^o oyo nnc^ 


To know whether the child is dead or alive in the 
bowels of the woman when she is in her severe pains, take 
a dish full of good oil and she shall see her face in it. 
If she sees her face — the child is alive, and if not — the 
child is dead. And if it is dead take a dish fiill of 
honey, and he shall put in five fingers, over her, in the 
said honey, and he shall lick them off each one separately, 
and then he shall drink a little tepid water with honey 
and she will be delivered immediately. 

* To know whether the child to be born will live. 



Text io. 

DiTJa INT nb Q''E)Bn3D ^NIH DN n3in3 DiTJa HB^Sni B^-iNH MNini 

,q.t:3 in-i^ d^sk'do pN ONI nainn 


To know whether a man or woman is bewitched take 
a dish full of oil, and the man or woman shall look into 
it. If they are bewitched they will not see thei r faces in 
it; and if they are not bewitched they will see their 

Text ii. 

iniN nioNi nn ptj' layo na }ni pniNB' n'» nsijo nc'in nnnp bv 

D""!^ iDN^i lioo Nvvn n^2 pia^i laia b Dnn yni' '^ a'^ta 

NSi^ Dtj'ni D^Jiy iyi nnyo a^aao nB' Ijdi ••i^n b^ i^Dnt^ T*/tD7K 

♦pNn p m:ii Vnyi' jo '|* n^uy jc 'D D^Naij^n p 'h va ni'N p '{< 


To drive out a demon from a person. He shall say the 
psalm, 'Why, Lord, standest thou afar off' &c.,* over 
a new pot filled with drawn water, and put into it a little 
olive oil, and say it nine times, and he shall wash in it ^ 
his whole body, and he shall conce.ntrate his mind on the 
name that comes out of it,*' and he shall say : May it be 
thy will, poPN, that thou shalt remove every illness and 
every demon from N., the son of N., from now and for ever. 
And the name comes out : ^^ from "^ va n^x, '7 from 
8 D^NDb^n 'o from ^ Q'l^y, y from ^o Y"^^^ P ^^i^ piyi?. 

^ The man and woman are here addressed, therefore INim. IN'T'1 
would have been better. But see above, p. 15, note 6. 

2 So in the MS. for DH. 

3 MT has pini!l. The writer was apparently not particular about an 
accurate rendering. He also writes Va instead of "irT'a (so MT). 

* Ps. X. 5 In the water with the oil. * Of the psalm. 

* Ver. 7. 8 Ver. 10. » Ver. 17. " Ver. 18. 



Text i. 

Line i. ina nc 'the princes of the thumb'. "We see 
already from the heading jnn nc 'the princes of the thumb' 
that the thumb plays an important part in this divination. 
Then we learn (1. 2) that the diviner has to make very 
thin the nail of the right thumb of the lad, that he has 
to anoint this his nail (and his forehead) with pure olive 
oil (1. 4), and that the lad has to look at his nail (1. 5). 
The spirits that are to bring the king Mimon are called 
psx nc ' princes of the nail ' (1. 7). The king Mimou 
has to be brought in that nail (nr piaxa, 1. 8). And when 
he wishes that they (the king and queen) should go away, 
the lad has to take off the oil from hjs nail (and his fore- 
head, 11. 10- 1 1 ). It is thus clear that a great magical power 
is ascribed to the nail of the thumb, if prepared, anointed, 
and looked at in the proper, prescribed way. The very 
bringing of the spirits is possible only through the nail. 
And it is only natural that this J)rescription should be 
called ' the princes of the thumb(-nail) '. 

Now, this 'thumb-nail' is also to be found in the Baby- 
lonian magical literature. In Bit. there occurs three 
times the phrase bel supur uhdni annie, p. no (b), 1. 3, 
p. 216, 1. 44, and p. 218, 1. 2. The last passage leaves no 
doubt as to whom this phrase refers, namely, to the haru, 
the diviner. Why is the hdru called bel supur ubdni 
annie ? Zimmem translates : 'der, von dem dieses Nagel- 
zeichen herriihrt', and remarks in a footnote (p. 1 1 1 , note b) : 
'Bezieht sich wohl auf eine Tafel, auf welcher die Anfrage 
an das Orakel aufgezeichnet wurde, und auf welcher der 
Betreffende, wie auf den sog. Kontrakttafeln, seinen 
Fingemagel an Stelle eines Namenssiegels eindriickte.' 
This explanation is unsatisfactory. Why should the 
tablet be called ' finger-nail ' ? And even if this were 


SO, what sense does it give ? It is obvious from the note 
of Professor Zimmem that he also felt the difficulty. 
Now, I have no doubt that iel supur ubdni annie is to be 
translated ' the master of the nail of this finger ', and 
that the whole phrase is a designation for the baru. Why ? 
Because the hdru divined by means of his finger-nail in 
the way shown in these Jewish texts. How important 
the nail-function was we see from the fact that on p. no 
the bdrit is called only bel supur ubdni annie. The bdril 
divines by ' looking' at shining objects (cf. below, p. 31). 
Divining by means of the finger-nail with all that belongs 
to it is therefore originally Babylonian. The bdrii most 
probably used his own nail. But even had he used 
a boy as a medium, as he no doubt did at times, he 
would have been called bel supur ubdni annie, as he, as 
the magician, had the power over the nail. It is thus 
quite obvious that the |n3 nB' were of Babylonian origin.^ 
It is probable that piav ntJ' represented certain ' princes ' 
that had their origin in the Babylonian pantheon and 
perhaps adopted in the course of time, in the minds of 
the Jewish magicians, vaguer forms (perhaps of angels 
and spirits in general) ; cf. also the following notes. 

Now there can be no doubt that these \n2 '•ntr are 
included in the p^ "'IB' mentioned in the Talmud (see 
above, pp. yff.). p^ "'IB' was the general name for the 
various ' princes ' invoked by means of oil-magic. In the 
texts published here we have jnn ntJ>, 5)3 nB', did nB>, and 

^ It would be tempting to say that bel supur ubani annie meant ' the lord 
of this finger-nail' and represented a spirit, thus being the exact 
equivalent of \TQ "W. But in view of the context (see especially Rit., 
p. 2i8, 1. 2) this seems impossible. According to the interpretation given 
above, the ' princes of the finger-nail ' are, of course, presupposed in the 
Babylonian divination, as we know now, through the Jewish texts, what 
r6le the nail played in divination. 

Another question is whether ubanu in the passages in Rit. means 
* finger ' generally or ' thumb '. The word \7\2 in this text would almost 
indicate that ubdnu means here ' thumb '. This would support the theory 
that ubdnu meant originally only * thumb ' (cf. Schrader , Zeitschr. f. AssyrioL, 
I, pp. 460-1). 


rh)l2 nc All these ' princes ' had the general name of 

It is worthy of note that Rashi actually explains 
pc nc by ina nc. On the passage in Sanhedrin loi* 
(see above, p. 7), Rashi remarks: d^b^ n^i2 U'^ |oty nc 
.pu nc ««m |DC nt' in^ npi pc' n^ b p^nib'B' ' " The 
princes of oil." There is a kind of magical work (lit. work 
of the demons), wherein one inquires through oil and 
they call them "princes of oil ", and that is " princes of the 
thumb ".' We see from this that Rashi (eleventh century) 
knew of the existence of magical work through }n3 nc. 
That Rashi was fully acquainted with the meaning of 
jna nB', and the details of those magical performances, we 
also see from a remark in his commentary on Sanhedrin 
67^. Commenting on the saying of Abayya TiDpT 
lu NiDN, Rashi says : "i3i nwyb b'\y w^nb' 'b^n bv n^spna^ ^o 
iinB' inpB> p3D panxB' jnn ntj* paa "i2T )r\)iih ^is-in ^ij3 xfja 
.n^aiar b'^ oia panvs' D13 ne'i 'He who is particular about 
the vessel (by means of which he divines), that he cannot 
do anything without the vessel that is required for that 
thing, as, for instance, the " princes of the thumb ", for 
which they require a knife, the handle of which is black, 
or the " princes of the cup ", that they require a cup of 
glass.' ' A knife, the handle of which is black,' exactly 
as in our text ! For the ' princes of the cup ' see text 7. 
It is interesting to see that Rashi, who lived more than 
half a millennium before the time of the manuscript of 
this text, uses the same words as employed in this 
prescription. ' Thumb ' magic is also mentioned by 
D. Kimhi (twelfth and thirteenth centuries) in his com- 
mentary on EzekieL Commenting on Ez. xxi. 26^, bpbp 
nnan hn-i n^sira bxB' cvna, Kimhi says : '•B'yoD nr bs^ 
pE'D^'Di pmnDB' Nim bpbp n^is nb sini loa bpbp cnTsi Dopn 
1D3 DDpn »^y3 ^2 pwni nxo n^na n\TE> ny pnn br-o ^3S 
nN"iD3 pi 5j^D3 D>Nn J31 pis^vH ni^nn!? pisM ^^^ inna d^mib' 
.nn^nn ib B^r? nnaa D^xn pi ' And all this is of the work 



of divination, and the explanation of 7pb\> is as that of xini 
bpb? D^JQ ^b (Koheleth X. 10^ ; ' and he do not sharpen 
the edge '), and that is that they sharpen and polish the 
surface of the iron of the arrow nntil it is very bright 
and the diviners look into it just as they look in the 
thumb of the hand into the nail because of the brightness 
of the nail, and so they look in the sword and so also in 
the mirror and so they look in the liver because it has 
brightness.' It is clear from this passage that Kimhi 
knew all about thumb-nail magic. He also tells us 
distinctly why the nail was used for these divination 
purposes: because of its brightness. The nail has a 
bright surface, and when well polished and prepared (see 
this text, 1. 2) its brightness is increased, and because of 
its brightness the diviner can look well into it and ' see ' 
the spirits. The same reason applies to the other objects 
of divination, as iron, mirror, liver, or glass cups and 
bdellium. It is important to know this, as it helps us to 
explain the meaning of the word DDp (' to look-at certain 
objects' — ,' to divine by looking-at certain objects' — ); see 
my article ' Die Bedeutung von DDp ' in the forthcoming 
Festschrift in honour of David Hoffmann. 

This note makes it clear that the thumb-nail divination 
which was common in Babylonia 2,000 years before the 
common era (see for the date of the ' Ritual Tablets ', Zim- 
mern, I.e., p. 82, also above, p. 12) was in vogue among Jews 
in the times of the Talmud as well as in the time of E-ashi 
and Kimhi and was still practised in the seventeenth cen- 
tury. It is still being practised in the Orient at the 
present time ; cf. Thompson, P8BA.^ 1906, pp. 84-5, where 
the description of a thumb-nail divination ceremony wit- 
nessed by the writer is given. Thus we see how magical 
practices wander from generation to generation almost 
untouched by the hand of time. Thumb-nail magic can, 
as we see, look back upon a period of 4,000 years.^ 

1 The custom of looking at the nails during the prayer of Hdbdalah at 
the outgoing of Sabbath (see Shulhan 'Arukh, Orah Hayyim, ch. 298, § 3 ; 


yp^p3 %v ^^i^ ' and make a circle in the earth '. The 
magical circle was indispensable, as it was supposed to 
protect the magician from attacks from the spirits. For 
details about the magical circle, see Thompson, Semitic 
Magic, pp. Iviii ff. What the use of the circle was we 
can see from a ' blessing ' quoted by Thompson, I.e., p. Ix. 
After referring to the work of mysteries to be begun 
the magician pronounced the following ' blessing' : ' "We, 
therefore, in the names aforesaid, consecrate this piece of 
ground for our defence, so that no spirit whatsoever shall 
be able to break the boundaries, neither be able to cause 
injury nor detriment to any of us here assembled, but 
that they may be compelled to stand before this circle 
and answer truly our demands.' 

This protective circle we also find already in Babylonian 
magic; see Thompson, I.e., p. Iviii; cf also Rit, p. 1:92, 
1. 46 and 1. 58. This passage may be quoted : ii Sama§ 

see also the compendium on festival and other ritual laws by Isaac ibn 
Ghayyat — nth century — published by I. D. Bamberger, Furth, i86i-a, 
under the title Dnyc HND in his book nnDt? nyc, Part I, pp. 15 and 16; 
cf. also J. Miiller, EirUeitung in die Responsen der babyhnischen Geonen, p. 3i6), 
for which different reasons are given (see nODK' ^■>ytJ', Part I, p. 16 ; also 
Tur Orah Hayyim, ch. 298), may also be connected with this nail magic. 
The attribution of magical powers to the nails and the supposed appearance 
ofspirits in them may also be the reason for the old prohibition of throwing 
away the parings of the nails (see Talmud Babli, Mo'ed ^atan 18 a, and 
Niddah 17 a). The reason mentioned in the Talmud is probably only 
a secondary one, which again may be connected with the reason given 
here. The accident to the pregnant woman (see T. B., 1. c.) was probably 
supposed to have been caused through the wrath of the * princes of the 
nail '. Various other customs with regard to the cutting of the nails (as 
the days on which and the order in which they should be cut ; see Jeioish 
Enq/dopedia, Vol. IX, p. 149) have probably also their last cause in nail 
magic. So may, for instance, on certain days the cutting of the nails 
have been regarded as being less harmful because on those days the 
nail-spirits may have been supposed to have less power of inflicting 
injury on the person. The same may have applied to the order of the 
nails to be cut. If the nails were cut in a certain order the demons had 
no power to do harm. All this would tend to show how deep-rooted 
nail magic was, and what an importance there was ascribed to the 


hel di-nim »^ Adad Ml bi-ri u-qat-tar-Tcu-nu-si «> erina ella 
ki-is-7'a sil-ta za-'-a tdha hi-is-rat «? erini elli na-ram Hani 
rabuti usurtu ilu-ti-hu-nu rahi-ti u-qat-tar sa-ha-a *? erina 
«? erina lis-hu-ma qat-ra-a ildni raiuti a-na di-ni da-a-ni 
ta-as-ha-a-ma di-ni di-na «^ Samas u «' Adad i-ziz-za-nim- 
ma ina qihlti-jd nls qdti-jd ina mim-ma ma-la eppusu{-su) 
ta-mit a-Tcar-ra-l)u ket-ta lib-si (11. 56-61). ' Samas, lord of 
judgement, Hadad, lord of divination, I make smoke to 
you pure cedar-wood, . . . . , good ....... of cedar- 
wood, to the favourite of the great gods, the (magical) 
circle of your great deity, I fumigate. Satiate yourselves 
at the cedar-wood. At the cedar- wood may satiate them- 
selves as a gift the great gods, so that they may deliver 
judgement. Sit down and deliver judgement ! Sama§ 
and Hadad, draw near ! In my prayer, in the lifting up 
of my hands, in everything that I do, in the inquiry 
that I make, there may be correctness.' We thus see 
that the gods of divination are asked to enter the circle 
(usurtu), to sit down there and then to deliver judgement. 
Cf. also Rit., p. 198, 1. II ff. ; p. 200, 1. 22 ff.; p. 204, no. 88, 
1. 13 ff.; p. 210, no. 95, 1. 32 ; p. 212, no. 97, 1. i ff.; and 
p. 216, 1. 48. We thus see that the Babylonian usurtu 
is the later Jewish ?13y. 

That the 'circle' was an important element in the 
ceremony we also see from the fact that the miracle- 
worker Honi mentioned in Talmud Babli, Ta'anit 19* 
and 23* ff., was called biv^, 'the circle-maker', after the 
circle which he used to make and in the midst of which 
he used to stand when he adjured God to grant his 
request and to cause rain to fall. Honi's actions showed 
a curious blend of pure monotheistic belief and faith in 
the efficacy of magic (see also Blau,Z)as altjudische Zauher- 
wesen, p. 33). 

Lines 2-3. D''J3^? DV^'^'*'^ 'four smooth stones'. Four kinds 

1 D''3nN D"'pbn '1 for D^^n D''i3N 'T ; see for the Hebrew of these 
texts, above, p. 15, note 6. 



of stones are also mentioned in King, Bahylonian Magic, 
no. 12, 11. 11-13. LI. 2-15 of that text contain directions 
for various ceremonies, and one of the ceremonies con- 
sists in offering (or putting somewhere*) four kinds of 
stones : alabaster («^"" parfitu), gold («^"w huram), lapis- 
lazuli («^" uknu\ and a seal («" kunuJcJcu).^ In the course 
of the incantation the following reference is made to 
these four stones : klma "■^^^parutu nu-ri lim-mir i-dir-tam 
ai ar-H (1. 69) . lilmo^^ uJcnu na-pi§-ti ina pani-Jca li-kir 
li-^ak-na ri-e-mu (1. 70), klma huram ili-jd u '^" istari-jd 
lMlmu{mu) itti-jd (71), ina pi niseP^' ana damiqti{ti) lu-uh-H 
(72), klma ^>" kunukku lu-ni-is-su-u limneti vi-jd (73) . ' Like 
alabaster may my light shine, may I never have afflic- 
tion ! (1. 69). Like lapis-lazuli may my life be precious 
in thy sight, may mercy prevail ! (1. 70). Like gold may 
my god and my goddess be at peace with me ! (1. 71). In 
the mouth of the people may I be blessed ! ^ (1. 72). Like 
a seal may my evil deeds be torn away ! (1. 73).' "* Another 
reference to these stones is made in 1. 104 (I.e., p. 58). 
We thus see that to these four stones a certain magical 
power is ascribed. No doubt the four smooth stones in 
our text stand in some connexion with the four stones in 
the Babylonian incantation. Various kinds of stones are 
also mentioned, together with oil, honey, and butter, in 
Hit, p. 138, lines 2-4, as necessary ingredients for the 
ceremony of the dsipu; cf. also p. 112, 1. 12, and p. 116, 
1. 28. Stones were thus used in magic in Babylonia at 
a very early period. 

Line 4. cnsB'n ni»y oai? ' before the pillar of the sun '. 
The expression of E'DB'n Tioy was no doubt formed after the 

* Meaning not clear. ' Cf. King, I.e., p. 60. 
3 Cf. Bit, p. 126, 1. la. 

* My translation of these five lines differs in parts from that of Mr. King 
(cf. 1. c, p. 62). Lines 71-2 give, I think, a satisfactory sense according 
to my rendering : his god and goddess may be at peace with him, and the 
people may bless themselves with him ; cf. Prov. iii. 4 3113 ?2U) |n NlflOl 


phrase "intrn niDj? ' the pillar of the morning-dawn ', which 
occurs in the Mishna instead of insj' (c£ the first Mishna 
of Berachot, where nnK^n Ti»y occurs five times — with the 
verb n^v — ) and has the same meaning as intJ' : ' the dawn 
of the morning' (see Levy, NHW., pt. 3, p. 660). As 
int^n nioy stands for nnK' so here K^K^n nioy stands for 
B>!OB>. \i^n^n Ti»y ijai? thus certainly means ' before the rise ^ 
of the sun \ From this we see that the ceremony had 
to be performed early in the morning before sunrise. 
Exactly as in the Babylonian divination. In Rit. we read 
several times that the various offerings, which were a part 
of the divination ceremony, had to be offered and the 
various other preparations had to be made before the rise 
of the sun ; c£ Bit, p. 100, 1. 6g £ : arad-Jca pulpul (?) 
ina *' Samas sa-at-tu-ri niqe liq-qi *'? erina lis-si-ma ana 
mahar ^ Samas lizziz{-ziz) ' Thy servant so-and-so shall 
offer an offering in the morning-hour, shall take the 
cedar- wood and stand before Samas ' ; cf. also 1. 55 ; also 
p. 102, 1. loi (and see Hunger, l.c., p. 16), and p. 104, 1. 127. 
On p. 112, 1. 3 we read that the diviner has to wash him- 
self at the dawn of the morning before the sun rises. 
Cf. also p. 130, 1. 33 ff., p. 142, 1. 19, and p. 106, 1. 4. Cf. 
also Hunger, 1. c, p. 10 and p. 15. See also my article 
'Balaam — a Babylonian haru' in Hilprecht Anniversary 
Volume, p. 61 f. So here again we have entirely the 
Babylonian method. 

ir m lOtJ'n mvoi misix nK>»i 'and anoint his nail and 
his forehead with pure olive-oil'. See note on pn nc*, 
and cf. also for the anointing of the forehead above, p. 11. 

Line 5. '131 nyatJ'nn nut 13TN3 ci'nbn nnxij,' and thou shalt 
whisper into his ear this spell ', &c. The spell consists of 
verses from Jeremiah and Psalms. The Babylonian sor- 
cerer, too, used hymns and psalms as spells ; cf., e.g., Bit., 
p. 126, and passim, and King, I.e., passim. And in the 
Babylonian tablets, too, are often only the first lines of those 

^ ni?y or nK5f is perhaps to be supplemented after ^JQ?. 


prayers quoted ; cf., e.g., Rit^ p, 124, 1. 22 ; p. 126, 1. 38 ff. ; 
p. 166, 1. 15, and passim. See also Rit., p. 91. It is 
interesting to note that the Jews did not take over the 
magical prayers from the Babylonians. This would have 
clearly been against their monotheism, and they substi- 
tuted their own psalms and hymns. They could adopt the 
obscure magical ceremonies and formulae, of the real 
(religious) meaning of which they were not quite con- 
scious. But they could not plainly worship SamaS and 
Marduk; see also the following note. For fuller notes 
on the use of psalms as spells see below, p. 41 f. 

The root ^rh is also used in Babylonian magic; see 
Rit, p. 39 f. 

Lines 7-8. D^yn ^^ nn: rvih^ h'2'^y\ D^n i'^n^'i ' for the sake 
of the sea and for the sake of the three lights that are 
in the universe '. This is a very interesting line. What 
is the D'' ? and what are the nnj rvih^ ? There can be no 
doubt that DM represents Ea, who plays a great role in 
Babylonian magic; see Rit, p. 98, 1. 42; p. 158, 1. 4; 
p. 160, 1. 4, and passim. The &an*-knowledge is called 
nisirti Anim Bel u Ea ' the secret of Anu, Bel, and Ea ' 
(see Rit, p. 89). Wherever Ea is mentioned together with 
Samas and Marduk Ea is mentioned in the first place ; 
see Rit, p. 158, 1. 4, and p. 160, 1. 4 and 1. 13. Cf also 
^urpu in Zimmem's Beitr. z. Kenntnis d. hah. Religion, 
p. 8, 1. 149 : '^ E-a lip-tur sdr apse ' Ea may solve, the 
king of the ocean ' ; and 1. 150 : apsu lip-tur hit nimeki 
' the ocean may solve, the house of wisdom '. Ea was the 
god of the deep sea. And instead of saying Ea the Jews 
said ' the sea '. The real meaning of it was, as it were, 
made obscure. DST is therefore Ea. 

The ' three lights ', nnj rwbv;, no doubt represent the 
three Babylonian gods, Sin (the moon), Sama§ (the sun), 
and Marduk (also the sun).^ Samas and Marduk played 
a great role in Babylonian magic; see Rit., passim. 

1 See KAT.^, p, 370. 


And Sin is also found in connexion with magical cere- 
monies and prayers ; cf., e.g., i?z7.,p. 128, 1. i ; p. 140, 1. 10. 
Sin is also called hel purusse ' the lord of the decision of 
the oracle ' ; see KA T.^, p. 362. So we have in this text, 
in a disguised form, four Babylonian gods: Ea, Sin, 
Samas, and Marduk. C£ Bit, p. 140, 11. lo-ii, where 
these four gods are mentioned in the same order, only 
with the addition of Adad before Marduk. 

Line 8. Mimon, no doubt the name of a principal 
'spirit', perhaps also represents some Babylonian deity. 
His ' queen ' reminds us of A-a, the consort of Samas (see 
Bit., p. 1 02, 1. 104). His ' two servants ' remind us of 
Bunene, ' the messenger (suJcJcal) of Sama§ and A-a ' {ibid., 
1. 105). 

The lines which follow, and in which we read of the 
slaughtering of two lambs and of preparing them, of 
bringing three cups (of wine ?), of placing a table in the 
slaughter-house, and of inviting them (the ' gods ') to eat 
and to drink, have their striking parallels in the Baby- 
lonian divination ritual ; cf. Bit, pp. 98-110, and passim. 
There we have the same ceremonies with much fuller 
details. The following passage may be quoted : ina ha-lu 
qlsti u Jcdt-ri-e mar «"»«^ Mre a-sar di-ni Id i-te-ih-hi »> erina 
Id inassi{-si) ta-mit pi-ris-ti ul i-ta-mu-su. 'Without gift 
and offering the diviner shall not come near the place of 
judgement, (otherwise) they do not announce to him the 
secret utterance ' (p. 104, 11. 1 17-19). All those offerings 
were therefore a necessary part of the ceremony, whether 
performed by the Babylonian hdru or the Jewish diviner.^ 

Line 11. nyintj'n nsD was no doubt the book in which 
all the magical prescriptions were contained. 

Lines 12-13. Here we see again that the oil was the 
principal element in the divination ceremony. When 

1 For Egyptian parallels see Griffith and Thompson, op. clt., p. 31 and 
P- 33. 


the oil was removed all the ' spirits ' left. Without the 
oil no ' reflection ', no ' seeing ', no ' divining '. 

Lines 13-14. D"'DyD n^b^ ' three times '. The number 
three was very important in Babylonian magic ; cf., e.g., 
Bit, p. 170, no. 56, 1. 4ff., and passim. 

Line 14. nON noN'B' ' that they shall tell the truth '. 
Cf. Bit, p. 104, 1. 126. 

Text 2. 

This text is similar to no. i. Only in this text the 
divination is done through the fp ^itJ' instead of the 
}n3 nc. The oil is therefore put on the hand. 

Line i. For the reason of taking a small boy or girl 
for divination purposes, see Halliday, Greek Divination, 
p. 161. There can be no doubt that the innocence and 
purity of the child were supposed to make him or her 
a more effective medium. In the pregnant woman it 
was no doubt the unborn child that was the main 

Lines 3-5. Cf. Hit, p. 170, 11. 12-13: a-na libbi uzne 
imni-su u sumeli-su Ill-ta-a-an tu-lah-hds. ' Into his ears 
to his right and his left three times thou shalt whisper.' 

Line 4. The names used here, as well as the names in 
1. 9, are difficult to explain. For a fairly full discussion 
of this kind of magical names see now James A. 
Montgomery, Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur, 
pp. 57fip. 

Text 3. 

Line 2. In this text it is prescribed that the left hand 
should be anointed with oil. In no. 4, 1. 2 we read that 
the right hand should be anointed with oil. In no. 2, 
1. I, it is only said * the hand of the boy '. 

Lines 3-4. This line is interesting, as it shows that 
magical power was only in the anointed place. 


Text 4. 
Lines 4, 7, 14. See above, note on no. 2, 1. 4. 
Lines 5-6. Cf. King, Babylonian Magic, p. 59, 1. 116: 
ina kisddi-su tasaTckan{an). 

Text 5. 

Line 3. The seizing of the hand was important in 
magic; cf. King, I.e., p. 55: kat <^'>»ei marsi subut-ma 
' seize the hand of the sick person ' (and recite that incan- 

Text 6. 

Line 7. nnan ix nN-i»n in nma 'by speech or by sight 
or by writing'. A passage from Rosenmiiller, 'Das alte 
und neue Morgenland', quoted by Hunger, op. cit., p. 4, is of 
interest for this line. Speaking of cup-divination by the 
Persians, Rosenmiiller says that through the adjurations 
the diviner compelled the demons to give an answer either 
through an audible voice or through the constellation of 
the signs on the little stones or through the images of the 
persons concerning whom the inquiry was made. This 
threefold answer we have undoubtedly here in "im, 
nN"i» and nn3. Cf also Hunger, op. cit., p. 5, bottom. 

Lines 21-22. Here we see again distinctly that the 
ceremony had to take place on a favourable and bright 

Text 7. 

In this text the divination is done through the D13 na', 
and therefore the cup has to be anointed with oil. A 
candle of wax is also used. Instead of one boy two boys 
are employed. Interesting is also the phrase DD ntJ' 
•jN^nc'D ^3^D bni HNnnni mbv^ oian bv n^Jiom cf. above, 
p. 29 f. 

Text 8. 

In this text we have divination through the various 
formations of the oil when poured on water. Most 
striking parallels to this text are to be found in the 


two Old Babylonian texts published by Hunger in his 
Bechericahrsagung (pp. 38-58). In the Babylonian texts 
sometimes oil is poured on water and sometimes water 
on oil : of. 1. c, p. 18. For very close parallels, cf. 
especially A 32-6 (p. 42), and 72 (p. 48), and B 10-14 
(pp. 48-50). One or two paragraphs may be quoted. 

A 34 : samnum me-e i-na na-di-e-ka ip-ru-us-ma i-tu-ur 

a-ve-lum U-im-ra-as li-is-ta-ni-ih i-ba-lu-ud. ' If the oil, 

. when you pour water on it, breaks through and again 

goes up, the person, be he iU and may he sigh, will 


A 72 : samnum me-e i-na na-di-ha id-bu mar-zum 
i-ma-at. ' If the oil, when you pour water on it, sinks 
(to the bottom of the cup) the sick person will die.' 

B 10 : samnum a-na me-e i-na na-di-ia id-bu i-si-id 
Jca-zi-im is-ba-at-ma u la i-li-a-am mar-zum i-ma-at 
ummdn p^- a-na liarranim il-li-Tcu-u u-ul i-tu-ur-ra-am. 
' If the oil, when I pour it on water, sinks down, seizes 
the bottom of the cup and does not go up (again), the 
sick person wiU die ; the troops who have gone in the 
campaign will not return.' 

In B 10 we have, exactly as in our text, divination 
through pouring oil on water and through observing 
whether it sinks to the bottom without going up again, 
or rises again to the surface. For the sticking together 
of the oil-drops (martin ipm:) B 14 is interesting. 

In any case our text presents a striking example of the 
longevity of Babylonian superstition. It reads almost 
like a paragraph from the Old Babylonian oil-divination 
texts translated into Hebrew. 

Text 9. 
In this text we have another form of divination by 
means of oil. The result depended upon whether the 
face could or could not be seen in the oil. Honey (1. 3 ff.) 
also played a rdle in Babylonian magic, see Rit, passim ; 
see also above, p. 34. 


Text 10. 

In this text we have the same mode of divination as 
in the previous text. 

Text ii. 

Lines 1-2. "We find that oil mixed with water was 
used among the Jews in Babylonia about 1000 c. e. for 
anointing a mourner at the end of the seven days of 
mourning. There, too, various Biblical verses were recited 
over the cup of oil and water. See Bamberger, op. cit., 
Part II, p. 74 (quotation in Ibn-Ghayyat from a responsum 
of the Gaon Hai) ; see also J. Miiller, op. cit., p. 253. For 
the use of oil and water in connexion with magic, see also 
the Sword of Moses, p. xiii. 

This text is of special interest because of the use made 
in it of psalm- verses. We know that the Bible was used 
for magical purposes ; see Jewish. Encyclopedia, Vol. Ill, 
p. 202 ff. The most favoured book in that direction was 
the book of Psalms ; see l.c., also Vol. X, p. 204 f. Books 
were written which contained prescriptions as to how 
the psalms were to be used for magical purposes (B'lOlJ' 
n^^nn). For an extract of the D-^nn B'IDE', see l.c., p. 203 f. 
We also know that the Christians made the same use of 
the Psalms ; cf. Kayser, ' Der Gebrauch von Psalmen zur 
Zauberei ' in ZDMG., Vol. XLII, p. 456 fif. But from the 
cuneiform inscriptions we learn now that this custom al- 
ready prevailed among the Babylonians. The Babylonians 
made constant use of hymns and psalms in incantations. 
As a matter of fact, most of the Babylonian hymns and 
psalms have come down to us as parts of incantations. 
For the use of Babylonian psalms as incantations, see, 
e.g.. Bit, p. 126 £ and p. 132 f. A beautiful prayer as an 
incantation we also find in PSBA., 1912, p. 152 ff. Cf. 
also Zimmern's interesting article, 'Zu den Maqlu-, Surpu- 
und Su-ila-Beschworungen ', in the Zeitschr. f. Assyrio- 
logie, 1913, p. 67 ff. Cf. also the hymns and prayers to 



SamaS in SchoUmeyer, * Sumerisch-babylonische Hymnen 
und Gebete an SamaS ' (in Studien zur Geschichte und 
Kultur des Alteriunis, Paderborn, 1912), and see ibid.^ 
p. 26. See also Schmidt, ' Gedanken uber die Ent wick- 
lung der Religion auf Grund der babylonischen Quellen ' 
(in Mitteilungen der Vorderadatischen Gesellschaft, 191 1, 
Heft 3), p. 88 : 'Denn es ist keine vereinzelte Erschei- 
nung, dass eine Hymne wie eine BeschwSrung betrachtet 
wird, fangen die babylonischen Hymnen doch nur zu 
oft mit 5iptu ( = Beschworung) an und warden iiberhaupt 
ganz wie andere Beschworungen gebraucht.' The differ- 
ence which Schmidt makes between Babylonian and 
Sumerian hymns cannot be maintained ; see about 
Sumerian incantations, ibid., pp. 92-104. We thus see 
that the use of psalms and hymns for magical purposes 
was an old Babylonian practice which the Jews no doubt 
took over from the Babylonians together with the rest 
of the magic. The Semitic Babylonians inherited this 
custom as well as most of their superstitions from the 
Sumerians who were the fathers of all superstition and 
magic in the ancient civilized world and whose influence 
is still felt among the nations of Europe. 

Oxford : Printed by Horace Hart 

at the University Press